What is Coronavirus? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention Tips



Since late December 2019, a new virus began to generate headlines all over the world owing to its striking speed of transmission. The virus that originated from the food market in Wuhan, China has affected several people throughout the world. The disease that has been caused by an infection of the virus SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19 and stands for coronavirus disease 19. However, despite the global panic, you are unlikely to contract SARS-CoV-2 unless you’ve been in contact with someone who’s confirmed to have the virus. So we need to reduce the panic and act smartly. 

The usual advice for a good personal hygiene and regular hand washing has been recommended as a basic measure. People suspected of being infected and experiencing symptoms of the disease are advised to wear surgical mask and check-up with a doctor for medical advice. Let us all resolve to defeat this pandemic through our wit and will power. If everyone joins hands (not-literally though) and decides to take the precautionary measures as prescribed by WHO and also various health organizations throughout the world, it is really possible to limit the damage done.

How Coronavirus Effect on humans?

Novel Coronaviruses are primarily spread through air droplets expelled when an infected individual coughs or sneezes within a range of about 3 feet to 6 feet. As this is a viral phenomenon, antibiotics are shown to have no effect. People admitted to hospitals are provided support for their lungs and other organs. Recovery depends on the strength of their immune system. Many of the people who have died were in poor health.

The cradle of the disease took place in the city of Wuhan during December of 2019 and has spread to almost all countries in the world. The number of confirmed cases has gone beyond 200,000 infected, by the end of March third week. It is estimated that a larger number of people may have been infected as compared to the confirmed counts.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

First and foremost is that we understand the symptoms associated with the COVID-19. Unless we are not properly aware of the symptoms, it will be futile to take precautions. Some of the common symptoms that have been linked to COVID-19 include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Having a cough that becomes more severe over time
  • A low-grade fever that gradually increases in temperature

Some people diagnosed with novel coronavirus can experience additional symptoms like:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Body aches and pains
  • Diarrhea

What causes Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is zoonotic. It means that they first develop in animals before developing in human beings. The virus is said to pass from animals to human beings when a person comes in close contact with an animal that carries the infection. Once the virus develops in people, it can spread from person to person via respiratory droplets. When you exhale this viral material that hangs out in these droplets, it leads to an infection.

Researchers believe that the virus might have been passed from bats to another animal (snakes or pangolins) and then transmitted to human beings. This transmission is likely to have occurred in the open food market in Wuhan, China.

What Coronavirus treatments are available?

Currently, there are no treatments available for COVID-19, although treatments and vaccines are currently under study. Instead, treatment is focused on managing symptoms as the virus runs its course.

Other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS  do have vaccines and treatments. Some treatments for these similar viruses are:

  • Antiviral or retroviral medicines
  • Breathing support, such as mechanical ventilation
  • Steroids to reduce lung swelling
  • Blood plasma transfusions

What are the possible complications from Coronavirus?

One of the most serious complications of a SARS-CoV-2 infection is a type of pneumonia that has been named as 2019 novel coronavirus –infected pneumonia (NCIP). Around 4.3 percent of these people who were admitted to the ICU have died from this type of pneumonia. 

According to the researchers, the complications in people who have developed Coronavirus are:

  • Irregular heart rate
  • Cardiovascular shock
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Heart damage or heart attack

What’s your risk level?

You are at high risk if you have come into close contact with someone who is carrying it, especially if you have been exposed to their saliva or been near them when they have coughed or sneezed. According to the reports of ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’, older adults aged 60 and above are more likely to become severely ill from Covid-19. Although a younger person can catch the virus, it is more menacing for older adults as their immune system weakens with age. 

What precautions you should take now?

  • Wash your hands time and again with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, and sneezing.
  • Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth, or eyes when your hands are dirty.
  • Do not go out if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Try to stay at least 3 feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow whenever you cough or sneeze. Throw away any tissues you use at once.
  • Clean items that you touch often. Use disinfectants on items like phones, laptops, utensils, dishware, and doorknobs. 

What is Quarantine? How to self-Quarantine?

According to dictionary definition, A quarantine is a restriction posed upon the movement of people and goods, and is intended to prevent the spread of disease or pests. It is often used in connection with contagious diseases and illness, by preventing the movement of those who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis. 

Below are the steps to be followed while under Quarantine: 

Stay home except to get medical care

You should restrict all activities that are to be done outside your home, except for getting medical care. Under no circumstance should you go to office, school, or to public areas. Avoid using public transport, ride sharing, or even taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

  • People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other members in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom/washroom, if available.
  • Animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other normal people. Although there have still not been many reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people with COVID-19 should limit contact with animals.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor

If you have a medical appointment, call the health care provider or the doctor prior to your appointment and tell them that you have symptoms of COVID-19. This will help them to take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. You should also ask your health care provider to call the local or state health department. 

Take care of your mental health

You might be feeling anxious, afraid, lonely or uncertain during this period. Read material that  lists helpful behavioral health resources, and a few tips for taking care of your emotional health while you’re quarantined. 

Wear a face mask

You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets, and before you enter a health care provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask then at least the people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, and they should wear a facemask when they enter your room.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or a cloth when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. You have to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share items such as 0dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

What you should stock up on?

  • Stock up on toothpaste, detergent, water filters, groceries, and toiletries.
  • Make meals and consider freezing them if you are concerned about food.

Changing daily activities

  • Avoid public places or poorly ventilated buildings where the risk of transmission is high. Do not shut yourself off from public life but be vigilant enough when you enter it.
  • Older/Senior citizens should eat properly and engage in daily exercise.
  • Wash hands properly before, during or after a trip into a public place is important.
  • Completely avoid public gatherings for social and recreational purposes. 
  • Various governments throughout the world have put a ban on unauthorized assembly of more than 50 people. 

Planning Travel

The ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ advises against unnecessary plane travel for older adults. Several airlines across the world have reduced their flight schedules for the next few months. Also, stay away from cruise ships for now. Cruise passengers are at an increased risk of person-to-person transmission of infectious diseases. Hence, if you have made any cruise plans, it is best to cancel them. 

What your family can do?

Getting prepared and keeping in touch can help families stay connected if an older member needs to isolate. Let’s look at some of the steps you can do to help the older members of your family.

  • Family, friends, and neighbors of older adults should prepare a list of required items in case the older adult needs to stay at home. 
  • If the caregiver of any older adult falls sick, get someone to step in their place so that they get all the care they require.
  • In case any older adult has any telemedicine appointment coming up, set up the tech and show them how to use it to speak with their physician.
  • If any younger member of your family has come into contact with a Covid-119 patient, they should self-isolate themselves and avoid meeting older, susceptible family members. 

How to talk to kids about the Coronavirus?

As communities and schools are working towards preventing the spread of coronavirus with precautionary measures that include closures and cancellation of programs, it is likely that the kid’s awareness regarding this outbreak is growing.

Some tips regarding how to guide the conservation with children regarding COVID-19 are as follows:

  • Stay calm, honest, and well-informed.
  • Tailor your approach based on your child. Check out whether more information is making them more or less anxious.
  • Share facts simply and calmly with children.
  • Ask your child what they know about this outbreak, answer their questions and address any misinformation.
  • Justify their feelings while reassuring them- “I can understand that this can be scary, the risk is still low, and we are well prepared.”
  • Remind them of the precautionary measures like washing hands thoroughly and frequently, coughing and sneezing into their elbow, and to get plenty of sleep.
  • Model good hygiene, and try to make it fun! Think of their favorite song and sing it while washing hands for at least 20 seconds.

What should you do when visiting loved ones at nursing homes?

This depends on whether that respective nursing home is accepting visitors. ‘The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine’ recommends that nursing homes should screen visitors before allowing them to enter in outbreak areas. If any nursing home has stopped allowing visitors to protect their patients, call them to find out if they have set up any alternative mode of communication between residents and family.

What to do if you are sick?

  • If you think that you have the novel coronavirus, do not panic. Stay home and call your physician. If they require you to come in for a test, avoid public transportation. They may provide you a face mask to wear a while in their chamber.
  • If your physician is not available immediately, consider calling a local coronavirus helpline. Some city, country, and state health departments have helpline numbers where you can call to discuss your symptoms and learn more about the virus’s effects on the community.
  • If you are diagnosed with the novel coronavirus and your illness not so severe, stay in your home until you are fully recovered. If your symptoms are severe, you may be hospitalized so that your physician can monitor your condition.

Conclusion

The Novel Coronavirus took the world by surprise. Despite the constant research that’s being worked throughout the world, there is no cure for the virus as of yet. Meticulous precautions taken by the people can prevent the disease, including the employment of surgical masks in crowded areas and reporting cases with any of the symptoms mentioned. It’s advisable to prevent the spread of the disease with better sanitary measures.

Better safe than sorry.

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